More features, fewer choices

More features, fewer choices:

How one team tackled a clean-sheet design challenge


It often seems like the RV industry has a "me-too" complex: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, a successful new model or floorplan will soon be "flattered" by any number of competitors.

So what happens when a product development team has the opportunity to truly start from scratch? In the case of the team behind Winnebago's new Class A Intent, it can be both freeing and a bit intimidating.

"It was quite a journey," commented Niles Whitehouse, Winnebago Product Manager for Class A gas coaches. "

"We did a lot of research with customers to determine what features are most important to them, and to better understand how they actually use their motorhomes. Our goal was to deliver the best customer experience possible." (See Niles give a walkthrough tour of the Intent here.)

Somewhat surprisingly, one outcome was that Winnebago took a fresh look not only at what they were building, but at how they built it.

"The Intent uses new processes, a new 100% dedicated production line, and what we call a modular approach, where the four floorplans share most of the features in common. In fact, there are very few options available on the Intent," noted Whitehouse.

"All of this lets us build more value in, take some costs out, and pass the savings on to our customers."

The second outcome, of course, is the Intent itself. The Class A gas model is characterized by its sleek appearance, well-thought-out design, and an unexpected wealth of features.

Available only in white ("more visible and reflects more sunlight," noted Product Manager Whitehouse), the Intent gives you a choice of accent stripe color.

The coach is built on Ford's F-53 chassis, and uses Winnebago's proven SuperStructure technology to surround the cab with a sturdy steel framework. That allows the Intent to have slimmer A-pillars, resulting in outstanding visibility through the expansive front windshield.

The cab is also notable for its patented dash with snap-in accessories. An aluminum channel runs along the dash, allowing driver and passenger to place accessories like cupholders and a work station right where they want them. The rear-view monitor even swivels, meaning no more neck craning to see what's going on behind you.

Other shared elements include a walkaround queen bed, exterior entertainment system (under the awning), powered bed over the cab and a sofa and dinette.

And every Intent galley includes the same residential-style refrigerator, microwave, three-burner range/oven, pantry, and double sink set in the spacious countertop.

Another example of the "clean sheet" approach is the LP tank system. Rather than a fixed conventional tank that requires a trip to a propane supplier to fill, the Intent uses up to four easily exchangeable 20-pound propane cylinders, just like the ones used to power barbecue grills.

Additional thoughtful touches include storage compartments below the entry steps, a stand-up desk, and a rear gas fill so it doesn't matter which side of the pump you pull in on.

Every Intent comes with an Onan generator and 1kilowat inverter, and is pre-wired for solar panels. The four floorplans range from 26'10" to 31'10," and feature either dual slideouts or a full-wall driver's-side slide.

It may be a coach with few available options, but the Intent includes a long list of standard features that experienced RVers will recognize and appreciate. You can learn more about the Intent here.

Trader Online Web Developer

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